Dear Southern Seminary,
If I am reading the seminary calendar correctly, this is the day you begin classes for your fall term. And as you begin your classes once again, I want to send along just a brief note.
I should begin with a word of explanation. A little while ago I signed up for a service to help me organize some of the behind-the-scenes information related to my web site. I generally do not do so well with numbers and graphs and charts, but as I poked around one day, I stumbled across a little graphic that even I could understand. I knew instantly that this mattered, that this would be a defining moment in what I do and in how and why I write. Here it is:
That little graphic displays where the people are located who read articles I wrote over a certain period of time. And right at the top is Louisville, Kentucky. Perhaps this is an unfair leap, but I am assuming a connection to Southern Seminary; a couple of friends down there tell me this is probably a safe assumption.
I don’t know that I can easily explain what it did to me to see that graphic. It meant so much to me because you–seminarians–are some of my favorite people. I consider it a high honor and a high privilege that you read this site. I consider it a challenge as well, because I want this site to be worthy of your time. (And yours, too, if you are at Master’s or RTS or Westminster or Puritan or any of the other seminaries where Christ is held high; you are there in the graph too!).
Here is what I want to tell you as you set out into another year:
I am grateful for you. As a culture we are increasingly accustomed to instant gratification and we are accustomed to believing that we deserve to have an easy path through life. Yet you have signed up for several years of long hours and difficult work and red ink in order to prepare yourself for future ministry. I know enough about your school, I know enough of your professors, and I have read enough of Dr. Mohler’s books and blog posts, to know that you are in good hands and that it is a high, high privilege to study at this institution at this point in history. You have the privilege of dedicating these years of your life to the formal study of doctrine and languages and counseling and preaching and all the disciplines that will serve you–and us, the church–so well through a lifetime of ministry.
I envy you. I envy the opportunity you have to receive a Bible-based, gospel-centered, theological education. I do not go through life dwelling much on what could have been, but I do look back with a measure of regret that I did not go to seminary. At this point life is such that it would not be wise for me to leave this church and back away from writing and other projects in order to study. Maybe that day will come. For now, though, it is one of those regrets that bubbles up every now and again and one of those ways I think I could have been more effective in serving.
I pray for you. You are among the next generation of pastors and leaders and counselors and preachers, of church planters and missionaries. So I pray that God will bless you, that he will bless you with the ability to excel in learning, and that through your learning you will grow in godliness and skill so that you can be fully qualified as leaders in churches all across the world. I pray as well that some of you will come up here and help us reach Canada.
If there is any way I can serve you, please contact me (and again, you too at Master’s and RTS and…). Many of you have written in the past to ask if I can review this book or write about that topic; whenever possible, I try to do so. I do not often get to Louisville, but if you do happen to see me there, or if you run into me at a conference or somewhere else, please do introduce yourself and let me know specifically how I can pray for you.
In the meantime, you are in my prayers.
Your brother in Christ,